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India, the world’s largest democracy and among the fastest growing economies, has had a culture of strong community ties complimented by a heritage of social awareness and commitment. The recent phenomenon of globalisation and liberalization has, however, created huge disparities between different sections of society and it is now the responsibility of the privileged few to work towards their upliftment.

Goa Institute of Management recently hosted Dr. Malcolm Harper, a stalwart in the social & developmental sector recently to sensitize the students over the importance of being socially responsible citizens. Dr. Harper mentioned various ways in which the students create an inclusive society and discussed the role of Management Education in the same.

During his talk, Dr. Harper stressed on the fact that for any organization to have a separate CSR department is equivalent to a human being having a special “being good” department. In other words, every individual should be socially responsible by nature and should not require a separate cell to carry out this role. He gave various examples from the corporate supporting schools and CSR work and simultaneously involved in unethical practices. As a result, the aim of the business is to maximize the shareholder wealth while that of their CSR departments is to repair the image damage. The actual cause is thus somewhere lost in the process. 

Dr. Harper also discussed the significance of social marketing to create awareness amongst the privileged sections of society and the use of qualitative and action research to aid in this. Being genuinely socially responsible is more important than spending lakhs on CSR projects which never reach the intended beneficiaries and hence companies and the government and individuals together need to devise effective ways to make this happen.

The event was conducted by Samarthan, a student initiative under the newly established ‘Centre for Social Sensitivity and Action’ at GIM to promote the culture of being socially responsible among the budding managers and organizing events to promote the spirit of community & social well-being.

Malcolm Harper is emeritus professor of enterprise development, Cranfield School of Management, UK, and since 1995 has worked independently, mainly in India. He has published widely on self-employment, enterprise development, microfinance and livelihoods. Professor Harper was chairman of Basix Finance in India for 10 years, and is chairman of M-CRIL, an international microfinance and social rating company. He was the founding editor of the journal Small Enterprise Development (now Enterprise Development and Microfinance, published by Practical Action), and is a director and trustee of Homeless International, EDA (UK) Limited, APT Enterprise Development and PA Publications in the UK.